Holy Innocents’ fell just short of advancing to the state championship game for the first time in 14 years as the Lady Bears lost to Southwest Atlanta Christian 78-43 in a Class A private school tournament semifinal game last Friday.
It was all SACA from start to finish as Holy Innocents’ (24-6) fell behind 20-6 in the first quarter and was never able to catch up after that.
“We dug ourselves in a hole early on and we couldn’t get out of that hole,” Lady Bear coach Tony Watkins said.
SACA will now play St. Francis for the Class A private school state championship Saturday in Macon.
Freshman Erika Cassell scored 11 points to lead the way for the Lady Bears.
It was the first trip to the state semifinals since 2004 for Holy Innocents’, which finished runner-up in its last championship game appearance in ’99.
The Lady Bears advanced to the Class A private school final four with a 58-43 victory at home over local and Region 5A rival Atlanta International (17-6) last Tuesday.
A big first quarter made the difference for Holy Innocents’, which outscored AIS 16-4 in the opening period.
“I felt like we were pressing a little bit too much,” Watkins said. “I think we were really excited to play. After the first quarter, we didn’t make the plays we made at first. But, we were able to play well enough to win. Give credit to AIS, they played very, very well. They played very disciplined and they laid it all on the line.”
Erika Cassell scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Reshaundra Owens added 11 points and McKenzie Bolden had 10 points and five assists for the Lady Bears.
Lovett (16-13) saw its bid for a second consecutive state title come to an end as the Lions lost to Kendrick 53-43 in a AA quarterfinal game last Tuesday.
The Lions led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter, but were outscored by Kendrick 42-28 over the next three periods.
“We had a great game plan,” Lovett coach Liz Kennedy said. “It was a very close game until the end, when we had to foul. I am very proud of my team and the year they had. We played numerous [Class] AAA, AAAA and AAAAA and even AAAAAA schools this year to try and make us better. Getting to the Elite Eight was an accomplishment and shows how good this team is.”
The season also came to an end for Pace (15-14), which lost to Calvary Day 61-32 in a Class A private school tournament game last Tuesday.
St. Pius X (29-3) will play for the AAA title after defeating Chapel Hill 59-51 in a semifinal contest last Friday.
The Golden Lions will play Dawson County in the AAA championship game Saturday at 3 p.m. in Macon.
Other state girls’ championship games in Macon are Columbia vs. Sandy Creek (AAAA) and Randolph-Clay vs. Gordon Lee (A public school) Thursday, Miller Grove vs. Southwest DeKalb (AAAAA) and Wesleyan vs. Laney (AA) Friday and Norcross vs. North Gwinnett (AAAAAA) Saturday.